Seeking New York City agent/publisher. Synopsis:
In the early 1930s, in the midst of the Great Depression, young collegiate actress Abby Lewis determined to try to make it to Broadway -- even though times were hard. She was fortunate to land some walk-on and understudy roles in the company of Shakespearean actor Walter Hampden, about to go on a 1933 nationwide tour. At the first Hampden rehearsal she saw and insists she fell in love at first sight with an older, very handsome, very married actor from a New York theatre dynasty family, John Seymour.
John and Frances Seymour had two children, one born after he and Abby began their love affair. John had been on New York stages since 1918, but his income was faltering in the late â€˜30s.
John returned Abby's feelings, but the two waited a biblical 14 years before John felt he could divorce his wife and marry Abby. In the meantime, John and Abby did everything they could to bolster each other's careers and slowly began to succeed. Abby Lewis never quit in the search for her two goals -- acting success and love. She was determined on both counts. She showed up on time for every assignment, even if ill or tired, and she took every sort of lesson, including years with the Strasbergs (2 of them alongside Marilyn Monroe). She did make to the Broadway stage. She loved John unconditionally, supported him financially, and enabled his comeback. By the late â€˜40s the two were working separately on radio serials, then enjoyed single and joint TV appearances on stage on the shows of Jack Paar, Jackie Gleason, and others. Whenever an opportunity for either appeared for a role on stage, it was instantly accommodated. In the 1960s/â€™70s, the two became frequent models, their faces in TV commercials, as well as The New York Times, a cover of Newsweek, and other print media. They bought some lovely beachfront property on the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound, which propelled their assets to more than two million dollars.
Particularly touching is a series of heartfelt and earnest letters exchanged between Abby and John's wife Frances, who tried fruitlessly to salvage her marriage. John, who â€” for all his flaws â€” is amazingly difficult to dislike, was the courier of these letters.
Their love story, not an easy story, never wavered until John's death in 1986, after an awful "push-in' robbery of their Greenwich Village home on Minetta Lane, during which he was badly beaten. Abby's own handwritten memo to herself about the day of John's death is only one riveting account from her boxes that led me into the story.
The colorful families of both Abby and John had both positive and negative effects on the couple, enriching their lives and their stories. His aunt Fanny Davenport was the most sought-after stage star of New York City in the late 1800s/early 1900s. His formidable niece was actress Anne Seymour. And his father was theatre manager Willie Seymour, for whom Princetonâ€™s archived theatre collection is named. Abbyâ€™s father, â€œPreacher Lewis,â€ a very difficult man, is nevertheless still regarded in these parts as a saint. Preacher Lewis, always an independent thinker (some of his bishops called his parishioners â€œLewisitesâ€), stood by Abbyâ€™s professional and personal decisions. Over the decades, Abby sent thousands of checks to all her siblings save one, often sacrificing her own well being and deferring her own plans.
John Seymour's precise memories of New York City theatre are memorable, beginning from his high-school stage appearance with Enrico Caruso and first play in 1918 with beautiful Laurette Taylor and other renown actors of the time. He maintained an active membership in The Players, where I believe his portrait may still hang in the Library. New York City was Abby's home from 1933 until her death in 1997.
Up to 75 photos and the extensive work records for both Abby and John may be included.
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